I’ve been dimly aware that physics in the UK was being hit hard by a financial crisis for a while now. It seemed to be a bit deeper than what people in other countries complain about, but I hadn’t given it much thought until I read this Physics World story on the latest cuts, which includes the following explanation:
The origin of the cuts can be traced back to December 2007 when the STFC announced that it had an Â£80m budget deficit for the UK government’s current spending round that lasts from 2008 to 2011. It is thought that the deficit emerged by an accounting mistake was made when the STFC was created in April 2007 from the merger of two existing councils: the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and Council (a grant-awarding body) and the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils, which ran the UK’s main research facilities.
What the hell?
I mean, you’re combining two agencies with a budget running to the billions, and you, what, forgot to carry the one? Do they not have spreadsheets in Merrie Olde England? Didn’t it occur to anybody to check the math(s)?
And once the error was noticed, two years ago, there wasn’t any way to fix it? Isn’t that what Parliament is for? Or are they just there for television purposes these days?
There’s got to be more to this, because the simple reading is just insane. Can any of my UKadian readers explain this?